12 Things You Didn't Know About the Eiffel Tower
First up: the Eiffel Tower was originally supposed to be merely temporary. And, sure, according to Hollywood, it's only a matter of time before it's destroyed by an asteroid/nanobots/the ravages of time, but despite all that, it's become one of the most enduring, recognizable, and iconic structures in the world. Here are a few more things you probably didn't know...
1. It's not the tallest structure in France
When it opened in 1889, the Eiffel Tower was almost double the height of the world’s previous tallest structure. And sure, at 986ft tall, the Eiffel Tower beats out many buildings, in France and elsewhere around the world today... but in France, it gets beat out by a lot of radio masts, putting it in the No. 9 spot for tallest French structure.
2. It was supposed to be in Barcelona
Yep, Gustave Eiffel originally pitched the idea to the Spanish, hoping to get it built for the Universal Expo in 1888. They turned it down, explaining that it was “too expensive and strange.”
3. It was originally red... and it took a year & 60 tonnes of paint to change that
When it opened, the Eiffel Tower was painted a reddish-brown. But the Eiffel Tower has actually been repainted 18 times, and it has not only been red, but also yellow. Today it’s painted in its iconic bronze color, officially called “Eiffel Tower Brown,” which requires 60 tonnes of paint. It takes more than a year to paint the whole thing.
4. The architect of Palais Garnier hated it
Many people in Paris' arts and literary circles were vehemently opposed to the structure, including the architect Charles Garnier. A group of them penned a letter in the newspaper Le Temps, addressed to the World’s Fair director, Monsieur Alphand and titled "Protest against the Tower of Monsieur Eiffel." In it, they wrote, “We come, we writers, painters, sculptors, architects, lovers of the beauty of Paris which was until now intact, to protest with all our strength and all our indignation, in the name of the underestimated taste of the French, in the name of French art and history under threat, against the erection in the very heart of our capital, of the useless and monstrous Eiffel Tower.”
5. Thanks to the Tower, the French got to watch the coronation of the Queen of England LIVE
Gustave Eiffel was an advocate for scientific uses of the Eiffel Tower, and throughout the decades, it played a role in telecommunications as a support antenna for wireless communications. A television studio was set up nearby on Rue de Grenelle as early as 1935, using the Eiffel Tower transmitter. And it was thanks to that transmitter that the French people got to watch the 1953 coronation of the Queen of England live.
6. It's way more popular than you
It has over 1.6 million fans on Facebook. And think of all the selfies it gets to be in.
7. It's becoming a power station
In February 2015, two wind turbines were installed on the Eiffel Tower. The turbines are capable of producing 10,000kWh of electricity per year, which is equal to the power used by the commercial areas on the Eiffel Tower’s first floor.
8. It leans away from the sun
Like any huge metallic structure, the side facing the heat of the sun expands slightly, causing it to "lean" by as much as 15cm.
9. You can host a business meeting in the Eiffel Tower
Forget boring board rooms, the new Gustave Eiffel reception room is 187ft above ground and can be rented for business meetings. And if business meetings aren’t your thing, then rent it for a cocktail party instead.
10. There’s an Eiffel Tower in Texas
Yes, even Paris, Texas has an Eiffel Tower. There are actually more than 30 Eiffel Tower replicas around the world. Most are smaller, but the one in Downtown Tokyo is to scale (and is the second-tallest thing in Japan).
11. During WWII, French resistance fighters cut the elevator cables just to annoy Hitler
Hitler actually ordered the demolition of the Eiffel Tower, which never came to fruition, but impeding the Nazis by cutting the elevator cables, the French resistance fighters required the Nazis to climb the stairs if they wanted to get to the top; a 1,665-step climb.
12. It got sold as scrap metal. Twice.
Con artist Victor Lustig saw a window of opportunity in 1925, when the Eiffel Tower was getting old and dilapidated and Parisians were pushing for its removal. He forged paperwork to pretend to be a government official and then coordinated with a group of scrap metal dealers. He got the money, and when the scrap dealers went to city officials to figure out when it would be torn down and they could get their scrap metal, they realized that they had been conned. Lustig ran the entire plan again a month later.